Suriname: Floods Emergency Appeal No. MDRSR002 Operation Update No. 2

Situation Report
Originally published


GLIDE no. FL-2008-000095-SUR

Period covered by this Operations Update: 27 July to 22 September 2008

Appeal target (current): CHF 844,295 (USD 861,181 or EUR 518,927).

Appeal coverage: 108%

Appeal history:

- This Emergency Appeal was initially launched on 27 June 2008 for CHF 381,174 (USD 363,022 or EUR 234,280) in cash, in-kind, or services to support the Suriname Red Cross (SRC) to assist 3,000 families (approximately 15,000 beneficiaries) for six months.

- Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF): CHF 140,000 (USD 133,333 OR EUR 86,047) was initially allocated from the Federation's DREF to support the National Society in the response.

- This Revised Emergency Appeal was launched on 27 July 2008 for CHF 844,295 (USD 861,181 or EUR 518,927) to include an additional relief distribution and additional capacity building activities.

Summary: Several weeks of heavy rains in the Paramaccan and Tapanahony regions of Suriname caused rivers to rise substantially, thus flooding nearby villages and destroying agricultural plots. The Suriname government coordinated assessments and relief efforts of multi agencies and organisations. The affected areas were not declared as "disaster areas" by the government. In this case international assistance was unable to respond to the flooding requested. However, the Suriname government has requested United Nations assistance to plan and implement an early recovery strategy.

The Suriname Red Cross commenced rapid and detailed assessments in the regions and made relief distributions to the most vulnerable people affected by the June 2008 flooding in the Paramaccan and Tapanahony regions of Suriname. Distributions were completed on 7 September. As part of the early recovery strategy mentioned above, the Suriname Red Cross with support from the Federation will conduct a food security evaluation within a limited flood affected area to determine if communities are commencing recovery or if an additional intervention is needed.

This second operation update focuses on the completion of relief distributions and planning of recovery and capacity building activities. These activities are made possible by the donations of the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid, the American Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross, Japanese Red Cross, Kuwait Red Cross, and Netherlands Red Cross. Response to this appeal has been very generous and includes bilateral donations from several Partner National Societies (PNS) and other organisations; consequently no further funding is sought.

This operation is expected to be implemented over six months, and will be completed by 27 December 2008; a Final Report will be made available by 27 March 2009 (three months after the end of the operation).

The situation

On 28 May 2008 constant rainfall flooded several villages located on the northern part of the Marowijne River according to the Government Department for Regional Development. People evacuated the area to higher ground or to the neighbouring country of French Guyana. Heavy rainfall continued with high peaks in the week from 1 to 7 June 2008, leading to the overflow of the Tapanahony and Marowijne rivers. Consequently, this led to the flooding of more villages that lay along the riverbanks. As the river waters receded it became clear that many life sustaining crops were destroyed. The most affected areas are the Tapanahony, Lawa, upper Marowijne and Coeroeni, in southern and eastern Suriname.

Suriname experienced severe floods in May 2006 which affected some 25,000 people and approximately 25,000 to 30,000 square kilometres of land. The 2006 floods were considered by many as the first natural disaster in Suriname in over 20 years. However, for this emergency two years later, the Suriname population and the Suriname Red Cross (SRC) were better prepared than in 2006. For instance, people undertook early attempts to protect their personal belongings by moving household items to higher grounds. Newly settled families had taken precautions to elevate their houses. The SRC was able to anticipate needs and was better prepared, having trained National Intervention Team (NITs) members. Nevertheless, damages from the surge of rainfall were extensive.

In the southern region of Suriname, close to the border with French Guyana, the flood water reached levels similar to those in the 2006 floods. The only way to access these villages is by boat via the river, even during non-flood periods, as there are few roads. Many schools, houses, resorts and roads were reported damaged. River water levels have receded, but remain higher than normal. In addition, reports from the National Coordination Centre for Disaster Management (National Coordinatie Centrum Rampenbeheersing - NCCR) indicate that 30 per cent of the livestock, 65 per cent of crops and 90 per cent of the fishing industry have been affected.

The government and several NGOs responded to the emergency by coordinating efforts and sharing information. Damage and needs assessments of the affected areas were conducted. The government commenced relief assistance by distributing food parcels. The SRC emergency relief activities included distribution of 5,108 food parcels, 5,108 jerry cans and 2,554 buckets. In addition, the SRC distributed 12,770 boxes of chlorine tablets and conducted trainings on the proper use of chlorine tablets and hygiene promotion. .

Food shortages were addressed through the distribution of food parcels. However, in many areas fishing and hunting were not possible for several weeks following the floods, and many crops that were submerged for an extended period and were ruined entirely. Food security, therefore, remains a concern. In addition to the food shortage, the specific threats identified by the NCCR are the economic consequences that include damaged tourism facilities, reduced employment opportunities, reduced supplies for tourists, damaged micro-enterprises and crops and artisan gold-mining facilities.